Audiences

An expert in audience development and diversification, Donna Walker-Kuhne has devoted her professional career to increasing access to the arts. In advance of her keynote plenary on “Dynamic Community Engagement” at Chorus America’s Conference in Cincinnati, she spoke with president and CEO Catherine Dehoney about how the conversation around community engagement has changed—and the opportunities this creates for choruses to “roll up their sleeves and dig in.” 

As a graduate conducting student at Temple University in the 1980s, Diana V. Saez recalls being frustrated that there was no mention of Latin American composers—except for the famous composers Villalobos from Brazil and Ginastera from Argentina. When she moved to Washington DC, in 1990, she found a bustling choral music scene, with a wide variety of choruses. But Latin American music was not part of the standard repertoire.

After performing the Brahms Requiem as the centerpiece of Chorus America’s Robert Shaw Centenary Symposium in mid-April, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus brought the work to New York for a special performance at Carnegie Hall. Music journalist Matthew Sigman attended the New York performance—which also included Jonathan Leshnoff’s newly-commissioned work Zohar—and reflects on his experience hearing the masterpiece for the first time.

In preparation for publishing a series of community engagement case studies, we asked our members to share their own experiences with community engagement. The responses we received represent choruses of many types and sizes, from all over North America. They show the many different ways choruses are leveraging the power of choral music to impact their communities.

The people who would love to come to your next concert are out there. But it will require more than just more advertising or deeper discounts to find them and bring them into the fold. Arts consultant Matt Lehrman explains. 

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“The phenomenon of a gay men’s chorus is a vital part of the musical fabric of our society. It is not a gimmick to draw a crowd. We have always just wanted to put on great concerts – and make a difference while doing it.”

Midcoast Community Chorus of Rockport, Maine was founded on the belief that everyone has a voice that deserves to be heard and that powerful things happen when we sing together in community. The group’s founder and artistic director Mimi Bornstein talks about the impact of that vision in the community.

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